N was a girl I met at secondary school. Our friendship became closer when we were fourteen as before that we had a different set of friends. She and I came from similar backgrounds, we both had sisters and our families were from the same part of the world. We could laugh about the stereotypical values and characters of our relatives and relax in the thought that we weren’t alone.
Her father was controlling in some ways too. He had a constant, watchful eye over her as a teenager even though she was incredibly innocent. It was often suffocating as she just wanted to be trusted by the people she loved.
On one trip to the cinema aged fifteen to see “Jerry Maguire”, N’s parents actually followed us to check what she was watching. She had told them we were seeing “Mars Attack” – a perfectly harmless film about aliens to them. They should have checked and realised that it a satirical, political comedy that also had a 15 certificate. They just did not want N to see a film based on romance with the possibility of N seeing any nudity or sex scenes. It was ridiculous. They berated her when they discovered her lie, but what could she do? She needed to live her life.
At secondary school N and I were like sisters. We weren’t the most popular girls in our class but we both shared the ability to move from each friendship group and talk to anyone. We were friendly and likeable; rarely getting into any conflicts with other girls, something that was unheard of in a small girl’s school as a teenager. I felt a strong connection to her and our friendship eventually strengthened.
I was happy that we both continued our A-Levels at the same school too. This school was much larger and we did not share any classes. Our tight friendship became relaxed and as she built up new friendships with others, my shock revelation and discovery of my real father was hindering my chance and confidence to find new friends of my own. However, within the second year of college, I had managed to establish some different mates of my own. It felt good to meet new people. They were fun and vibrant, something completely opposite to what I had been exposed to before. They were cultured and experienced and in many ways I was in awe of them, never really feeling a true part of their lives.
N and I still caught up and gossiped about life.
She lived quite locally to me so we spent a lot of weekends together. I had always talked honestly about my father to her. She was the only person I felt I could truly be honest with. We spent hours on the phone both complaining and chatting about our parents, both exhausted and stressed by the pressures put on us.
She was my confidante for many years. All the truths and discoveries I had found out was heard by her. She was supportive, regularly building up my confidence and reassuring me that I was better than him. Our friendship was one of the most important things in my life.
At Drama School, N and I began to see less of each other. We were taking very different directions in life. I only saw her a few times in my first year. I don’t think she was very happy about that. Drama School was a release for me. It helped me to gain strength and channel my hurt and anger against my father into something much more focused and something I gained immense enjoyment from, it was an escape. I did throw myself wholeheartedly into it perhaps forsaking our tight friendship in the process. N and I began to disagree more. Our personalities were changing.
N became obsessed with appearing “trendy”. She ached to be popular, surrounding herself with countless “friends”. She loved attention and to be praised for her character. It became tiring, I did not want to constantly compliment and feed her ego. Her other friends did that. Gone were the days where we laughed on the phone till we couldn’t breathe. Phone calls in general were a rarity.
I was confused when I met her friends. They were all so different. It was like she had a contrasting set for each mood she was in. Some were pretentious and snobby like her, others down to earth and easy to talk to. Then there were the ones she went to gigs with and lived out her trendsetting life with. None of them crossed over and I was unsure of where I fitted in.
She had changed significantly as well. She was someone I no longer recognised. I was struggling to find a sense of who I was at the time. My life was moving quicker than I could keep up with and with the constant abuse at home I was straining to keep myself mentally afloat. N had what she had dreamt of: popularity. She was admired by others, climbing the social ladder and placing herself firmly at the top. There was no depth to our friendship and she slowly slipped out of my reach. I didn’t want to compete for her affection, I felt I shouldn’t have to. She was my friend to begin with.
We started to find fault in each other. I wanted her to spend time with me alone instead of parading her army of followers at every chance. She wouldn’t let them go or give me what I wanted. I was expected to fit in to her fashionable circle and bond equally with everyone. They weren’t my sort of girls. They were catty and aggressive, intimidating and bitchy. It was too much hard work when I just wanted an easy life or to grab a latte with my best friend.
There was never a moment alone together. Things were only worsening at home and all N ever talked about was music, clothes and men. I felt I could no longer speak openly when I was crying inside for support and help. She did not want to face my truths, that I was depressed and silently screaming to be heard. She brushed over any upsets changing the subject back to her own selfish life. I had become a problem to her.
Her friends mocked me too. N and I had become total opposites and they could not see why we were still in each other’s lives. She was heavily influenced by them and respected whatever they said to be true. I have no idea what kind of things they had said to her but they certainly had a negative impact.
Soon, I felt useless to her.
In August 2003, aged 21, I went on a holiday for two weeks to Corfu with her and four of her friends.
It would be the holiday from hell. A holiday that would destroy any hope of our seven year friendship lasting.
Keep reading to find out the future of our friendship.